Xenia, Austria

I’m half Ukrainian and half Australian. I’m now living in Vienna and studying photography. I’m actually a photographer, doing mostly documentary photography and conceptual photography.

Before the lockdown, I had a lot of work. Since it all started a year ago, I was just staying at home and doing literally nothing. I was working on my portfolio and some collage at home, but my normal life just stopped. I was just trying to figure out who I am now, what I need to do and trying to be with myself. It was always a question for myself.

I’m living alone in Vienna without my family, I have friends here but I was always asking myself, “Is this freedom or loneliness?” And it was always both. Since the lockdown started, I felt I’ve lost my freedom, and there was only loneliness. I lived alone in my apartment and I was always spending time on the balcony, taking pictures of the empty streets. I didn’t know what to do. It was already one year, and my works and my style have changed since then.

I’m feeling better now because I understood myself and what I want to do. I reflected on my life and my experience. I started to meditate and do sports. Before the pandemic, my life was really fast and I was doing something all the time. We’re now in the days where what we see within a week is more than what people saw in their whole lives centuries ago. For me, it was great trying to understand who I am, what I do and what I want to show the world. If I have an opportunity for me to show the world something, it’s already a goal for me.

The city is still locked down but it’s already different. One year ago, we were just staying at our apartments and no one went anywhere. Nothing was working, we didn’t know what to do. I thought it’s going to be a couple of months before everything is going to be normal again. But now we don’t know when we can go back to where we were one year ago. Museum, galleries and some shops are now opened cafes, restaurants and bars remain closed.

We have a practice lesson two times per week, but we need to do a test when we’re going to a practice lesson. Even if you want to meet some friends, you have to do a test. Because we don’t want to go somewhere that will cause a problem for someone. So we’re always doing a test, like twice a week.

People are walking around in the city. We can go to the shop or get food for takeaway, but we don’t can’t sit in a café or hang out as a big group. If you want to travel somewhere, you need to know which routes you’re taking and take a test. Of course, we need to wear a mask.

I didn’t have freedom. I had this feeling that I’m losing the game, but I didn’t even press the start, so I can’t even control the things. And I had a plan, a lot of ideas, and a lot of things to do. I want to travel more. I wanted to see my friends, but I was just alone in another country. Of course, I’m living here, but I didn’t have my freedom. And not only the freedom that I can’t travel, I also I didn’t have many choices. I was just sitting there and waiting until it’s all going to end. But it’s still here, and we just got used to it.

I understood the number of things I can do in the short period of time. When I had time, I could really do a lot. I was so happy what I did was even better than before.

I’m now planning my time better. Even when I’m sitting at home, I’m planning things I’m going to do. Because sometimes you’re just waking up and you go, “Okay, what I’m going to do today?” You need to plan everything to be productive. If you have the opportunity to go out and do something outdoor, you have to make sure you’re making good use of the time. You don’t want to waste your time for something unnecessary.

I started to meditate, to understand myself. I can really see that sometimes while things around me are not changing, my mood is changing. One moment everything is fine, the next moment things could go wrong. I’m trying to understand my feelings better and I find meditation and exercise helpful. These are the activities I didn’t have much time for before the lockdown.

Before the lockdown, there was so much going on. I didn’t even check how I was feeling in the moment. I was not in the moment, I was always in the future, in the project, in the work, in the event. I was thinking about “What’s going to happen? What I need to do?” I tried to find the balance between friends, work, between going out, between doing photography, between my studies. I was always running, running, running somewhere. And then I stopped. I stopped and I started to realize now what I’m feeling, how to be in the moment. How to make my life better, and feeling myself in that moment, where I am.

I still have some plans for projects that I want to do. But to be honest, after the summer, I want to live on the island for a couple of months. I want to try to change all this city life into an island life, continue to create art and travel more to see the world until I can no longer do so. Because I understood that everything can change in 5 minutes and I’m going to make the most out of my time. I want to go somewhere else also, to explore a completely new opportunity and discover life elsewhere.